The struggle to get enough sleep is one of the most common complaints of modern life, and like everything else one that demands 'a quick fix'.
If – like many - you've ever tossed and turned your way through the night, you'll know the effects of sleep deprivation on your mind and body. Good, restful sleep is the foundation of good health. Without it, we cannot be at our best. Not only that but when our bodies are not properly rested, our hormones are unbalanced, we lose our ability to concentrate and focus, and we are more likely to experience depression.
Lack of focus, brain fog and decreased cognitive ability during the day are some of the ways poor sleep can impact our minds. Beyond being tired, moody, and unable to focus, persistent sleep deprivation can also put our physical health at risk. Without proper restorative sleep, our bodies are at increased risk of developing chronic physical implications such as heart disease, obesity and type 2 diabetes. People over the age of forty-five who sleep for less than six hours a night are 200 per cent more likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke than those who sleep longer. Throw in the public safety concern of increased road accidents, errors in the workplace, economic costs… not to mention increased tensions in our inter-personal relationships and the case is strong for ensuring we are getting enough (and the right kind) of rest!
Experts recommend between 7 and 9 hours sleep a night, figures that sound like a very unattainable reality in a country when you consider that one study in 2018 showed 4 out of 5 Irish adults to be sleep deprived. That's a significant 80%... long before the crippling effects of a global pandemic came our way. So although many of us may be aware of the benefits of a good night's rest, few of us feel well-positioned to prioritize our sleep in a meaningful way.
That's deDANÚ comes in!
We've compiled a list of our favourite tips and techniques to ensure better sleep health for you and your life. It is important to bear in mind that sleep, much like exercise, and nutrition, is a behaviour, a practice more than an overnight hack. We can't promise to evaporate all of the wobbles Life throws your way, but we can support you with several tried and tested techniques and products to consider to ensure you are truly well on your way to your next night of fabulous, restorative sleep.
Aromatherapy is an incredible support tool when it comes to getting good, health-promoting sleep. The most efficient way to ensure a proper night's rest is to ease your parasympathetic system (the fight or flight mode) into a happy place of relaxation. Essential oils affect our limbic system, causing the brain to secrete the neurotransmitters necessary to cultivate the calm, relaxation and sleepiness we need around bedtime. Not only do they smell nice, essential oils scientifically support our overall health and wellness.
Use of Essential Oils
To use essential oils effectively, it is recommended to diffuse, inhale or topically apply the products outlined below. Do not use pure oils on the skin without dilution and be sure to keep away from children and eyes. Do not use internally.
Note: While ingestion is possible, it is NOT recommended for the general public because a great deal of essential oils knowledge and expertise is necessary for safe practice. Always check if any existing medical issues may cause a problem. Seek help if you have any doubts.
- Try one of our Essential Oil Diffusers. Think "Less is More". Use small amounts to begin. We recommend no more than 1 to 5 drops when using a new product.
- In the case of topical application, massage the area first to increase circulation. Heat will likewise increase circulation and lead to efficient, enhanced absorption. Be sure to use on areas of the body with greater concentrations of sweat glands and hair follicles (think head, soles, palms, armpits and pulse points).
Products to consider
The following products can be used separately or in combination to create your own unique blend of essential oils to support you. Let's dive in!
Lavender has been linked to deep, slow-wave sleep. Known for its calming effect on the body and mind, it's a great starting point for you and your sleep environment.
Bergamot is known to lower heart rate and blood pressure, assisting with overall anxiety and stress levels. Perfect for your body as you wind down after a long day at the office… or at home!
A natural sedative, clary sage has been shown to reduce cortisol levels, which greatly impact our sleep patterns, thus making it the perfect essential oil to diffuse in your sleeping environment.
Akin to clary sage, patchouli can be used to alleviate anxiety and symptoms of depression, lowering stress levels and making it a great addition to your sleep care regime.
A known sedative, ylang-ylang is used for its calming effects on the mind. A great product to consider on those extra stressful days. Ground and better enable yourself to properly wind down.
Frankincense is often used to alleviate anxiety and cultivate relaxation. It is great alone or combined with other scents to create your own unique blend.
Traditionally used to alleviate respiratory discomfort, peppermint essential oil has been shown to reduce snoring and other symptoms of mild sleep apnoea… making sure you – and your loved ones! – get a better night's rest.
Eucalyptus clears sinus pathways and airways; breaking up mucus and other congestive substances to help you breathe easy.
Tip: You might try our Breathe Wellness Roller which contains both of the above, alongside a rejuvenating blend of Ravensara, bay leaf and tea-tree oil to ease blockages, soothe congestion and set you up for your best sleep yet!
While aromatherapy is a powerful tool, good sleep hygiene is more than one product or an overnight (excuse the pun) endeavour. Practising good sleep hygiene is a combination of several different components, each of which we've listed below.
Bear in mind also, that not all sleep is created equal. The quality of the sleep we get is equally as important as the amount. Scientists agree that sleep is essential to health, and while the various stages of sleep are important, deep sleep (REM) is considered the most essential to feeling truly rested and well. Deep restorative sleep allows our organs and various bodily systems, including the nervous system to operate at full capacity. Without it, we miss out on the ultimate healing window to reset our bodies, minds and hearts.
In line with that, the following techniques have shown to be particularly impactful to ensure a rejuvenating, restorative night's rest.
- Aim for consistency: try as best you can to go to bed and rise at the same time each night and morning.
- Create a bedtime wind-down: designate a window of time before sleep where you do activities to support your vagal tone. (Reading, meditation, taking a bath; these are all impactful ways to activate your parasympathetic nervous system).
- Avoid heavy meals before bed.
- Limit (or eliminate) screen time during your bedtime wind-down. Better still, leave your phone in another room during the night.
- Exercise to ensure better sleep. That being said, while mindful movement can be beneficial before bed, experts recommend refraining from excessive exercise directly before sleep.
- Ensure your sleeping environment is conducive to restful sleep; a cool, dark, quiet environment free from noisy distractions is considered best.
- Minimize nicotine, caffeine and alcohol consumption: all three work directly against the most important stage in our sleep cycle, rapid eye movement (REM) and are the biggest physiological barriers to a proper night's rest.
Adequate rest enables us to feel rested and energized throughout our day. If you find yourself sluggish or often tired, it may be that you need more sleep, or, as mentioned, better sleep. Try the above techniques and figure out what works best for you.
Make the most out of your bedtime, create good habits and follow a regular sleep schedule as best you can. Remember, habits take time. Sleep care is a practice. No one size fits all. Your sleep regimen should adapt as you do. As adults, we need less sleep than we do when we are younger. Prioritizing your sleep is in no way an easy endeavour but it is a worthwhile pursuit. With better rest, we can find ourselves better able to navigate our days, weeks, months… ultimately our lives.
Codlamh sámh daoibh go léir!
A trained actor and director, Leah is an experienced yoga instructor with a decade’s experience teaching meditation, yoga and holistic care. She is a certified Reiki TUMMO healer, ayurvedic yoga masseuse, life coach and mentor. She can be found on Instagram and Facebook or at www.leahegan.com.